This year I participated in the Ugly Sweater Run 5K at Raceway Park in Englishtown, NJ. What was meant to be a day of family fun culminating in some delicious beer and cider did not go as planned. Until we get to that point, let’s talk about the run itself. I found out about the event through a Groupon that was offered to get a discount on the ticket price. While I was too late to use the Groupon, I was already hooked on the idea. The Human Movement is celebrating its third annual year of the run. In 2011 it all started in Louisville, CO and expanded to seven cities the following year. Now in 2013 they have grown to 31 cities across the nation including Canada and for the first time, New Jersey. The Ugly Sweater Run is a fun run where families and friends (including the four legged ones) celebrate ugly sweaters. All participants are welcome to run, walk, skip, or jump their way to the finish line. Toys for Tots has been the charity for the past two years and the same can be said for 2013. Participants are asked to bring a new toy to donate under a large inflatable tree for a local chapter in the same state. It was the incorporation of ugly sweaters and the fact that it also benefited a charity that drew me to this event. Another aspect that drew me to the event was the Sam Adams sponsor. Each participant over 21 also receives a bracelet for two beers or a hard cider to enjoy at the end of the race. Anyone can get some hot chocolate which is offered one mile into the race and at
the finish line.
Naturally, I invited my entire family and we became the team “The Family of Misfit Toys.” So began the search for ugly sweaters which could be accessed on eBay or a local thrift shop. I found mine on the very addicting and amazing site etsy.com for my mother, grandmother, and myself. The day of the race was winter perfect, with snow falling and ugly sweaters everywhere. I had my ugly sweater, tutu, and fleece lined leggings topped off with my ugly sweater run hat. I was surrounded by other crazy runners in speedos, shorts, tutus, and matching Santa and reindeer outfits. The giant Christmas tree was easily spotted for donations to Toys for Tots with workers thanking everyone for their support. I could see the Sam Adams truck that I would later run to after the 5K anticipating a great day.
The starting line began on the track itself. My cousin and I could not believe we were standing on a track that usually has hundreds of cars, not hundreds of people. Unfortunately with the snowy weather came some ice along the path. This made for some dangerous conditions and running was not encouraged unless you were prepared. My mother, father, and dog sped ahead with my dog leading the way full of energy. Meanwhile, my aunt, cousin, and I stayed back to enjoy the entire experience. We passed by a Reindeer Crossing with inflatable reindeer and made it to the halfway point where we were greeted with some hot chocolate. We made it to the Enchanted Forest around a mile before the finish line. What began as a very cold, snowy, and exciting day ended unexpectedly.
I had been looking forward to the event for over a month, but I never did get to finish the race. My father and dog were the only ones to finish due to an unexpected situation which was my aunt slipping on some ice. I could smell the finish line but we never crossed it and instead ended the day in the hospital. My aunt was not injured thanks to Shaun the firefighter for staying with my family until the ambulance came. We now have quite the story to tell and the nurses at the hospital found our outfits entertaining. Since then she has fully recovered and only wishes she could have finished! I never did get my beer. But my aunt and I are looking forward to running next year!